January 29, 2020
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Appreciation

Further Up The Mountain

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. The Indian captain once again proves vital in winning abroad, and strides into the 9000+ Test runs club, with the highest average among the highest run getters ever.

Further Up The Mountain
AP
Further Up The Mountain
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553

History would show that he (Dravid) is one of the best players for anyone, forget about India. It takes difficult conditions for the cream to come to the top. He came to the top in this game (at Sabina Park) and we needed him because he was the best equipped player to deal with the situation.

-- Greg Chappell, Indian coach.

He (Dravid) is a dedicated team man and it was only fitting that his contribution in his team's win was substantial. He had the will and the technique at his command to prevail over the circumstances. He was a clear choice for individual honours by a long margin.

-- Michael Holding, former West Indian fast bowler.

Dravid is a pretty big snag, a pretty big wall. You don't get an average of 58 plus for nothing. His technique is very good, he plays the ball very late and watches it as late as possible.

-- Bennett King, West Indies coach.

Encomiums for a man who perhaps remains unmoved by these words of praise. Instead, he would, in his usual humble demeanour reproduce the words uttered in a recent interview. 'I would like to be remembered for being a player who always brought the best out of himself.'

Indeed, throughout his career, Dravid has been a player who has waged a hugely successful battle against flaws, a trait that would be vouched by coach Chappell. 'He continually strives to get better. When he got out in the first innings, he didn't complain about the wicket. His comment was I should have been forward. It shows the mindset of an individual who is wanting to get better and better.'


Messrs Reliable

Not to belittle the contribution of the bowling attack - particularly Harbhajan in the first and Kumble in the second innings - that heralded a series victory in the Caribbean after 35 years, but India might have lost the script at Jamaica had it not been for the skipper's knocks of 81 and 68 (during which he completed 9000 Test runs). It was a testing track and Dravid was to admit later 'We had to grind our way. But it's probably one of my most satisfying innings when I look back at both the innings.' The skipper swept the batting honours by aggregating 496 runs at a superb average of 82.66.

Ardent cricket fans at home are yet to get accustomed to the team making winning a regular habit outside Indian shores, but whenever the side has finished first abroad, Dravid's brilliance has been vital to the cause. Consider the recent victories overseas:

September 2005, 2nd Test, Harare, Zimbabwe: Though the series belonged to Irfan Pathan for his exploits with the ball, Dravid left his mark by top scoring with 98 in an Indian total of 366. They won the Test by 10 wickets and the series 2-0.

April 2004, 3rd Test, Rawalpindi, Pakistan: Dravid's mammoth 270 contributed heavily to India's 600 and added immense pressure on Pakistan, skittled out for 224 in the first innings. The hosts fared no better in their second essay and conceded an innings and 131 runs win to give India a 2-1 series victory, their first abroad in more than a decade.

December 2003, 2nd Test, Adelaide, Australia: In response to a huge 556, India were up to the task and Dravid's 233 ensured the visitors fell short by just 33 runs. Ajit Agarkar (6-41) bowled the spell of his lifetime to leave India chasing 230 for victory. The target was modest, but the Aussies were in no mood to relent. Displaying his trademark cool, Dravid came up with a solid 72 to guide the team to a historic four-wicket verdict in 23 years on Australian soil.

August 2002, 3rd Test, Headingley, England: The English bowlers were sent on a leather hunt by Dravid (148), Tendulkar (193) and Ganguly (128) to post a huge 628. England cracked under the relentless pressure and lost by an innings and 46-runs. The four-Test series ended 1-1.

August 2001, 2nd Test, Kandy, Sri Lanka: Down 0-1 in the series, India bounced back to draw level. In the low scoring encounter, chasing 264 for victory, Dravid (75) and Ganguly (98) took the team to a seven-wicket victory.

There have been lesser jewels which were more of personal landmarks in drawn Tests like the 144 against the West Indies at Georgetown (2002), 115 against England at Trent Bridge (2002) and 217 at the Oval during the same tour.

The contrast between the two opposing captains couldn't have been any starker as it was in the decision involving M.S. Dhoni in the first Test itself - while Lara threw a needless tantrum, Dravid was as affable as ever, avoiding a nasty scene by his deftly timed declaration and then choosing not to speak on the issue, and being graciousness personified whenever he spoke of West Indies or Lara.

Today, no one embodies the spirit of Team India better than Dravid. Indeed, no one represents India with as much grace on the international arena as he does. The victory at Sabina Park was another shining example. As Chappell put it, 'I hope it changes the mindset of Indian cricket to touring and chances of success away from home.' The nation would be saying 'Amen' in unison.

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